staying safe online a few practical tips

In 2014, there were almost 3 billion internet users in the world, and 44% of households had internet access at home. The digital world is undoubtedly a part of our everyday lives – people start using the internet at school and at home from a young age. The internet is a useful place of rich information and ideas, but here are a few practical tips that young people should follow to make sure their experience on the web is a good one.

Set Up Some Online Boundaries

The internet world doesn’t need to know everything about you. In fact, you shouldn’t share any personal information such as your real name, address, neighbourhood, or even your city. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says you shouldn’t even give out small clues like the name of the school you attend or your baseball team’s mascot. Online predators can piece this type of information together to determine your location. Treat photos the same way you would information about yourself – never give them out to people you don’t know or without your parents’ permission. Keeping your private information a secret will go a long way towards staying safe online.

Avoid Online Predators

It’s a normal thing for young people to communicate with friends online. Parents and students should keep in mind that people online may not actually be who they say they are when their children are chatting with someone new. Someone who says they’re a 15-year-old girl at a local high school could actually be a 50-year-old person in the next province or state. That’s why it’s important for young people to talk with parents about meeting friends from the internet in real life.

Trust your gut. If a situation online feels weird, it probably is. Young people should feel able to talk to parents right away about any online interactions that make them feel uncomfortable — just like they would for any real-life situations. Parents can report online predators to CyberTip or call local police if a child is in immediate risk or danger.

Watch for Social Media Dangers

Social media is a fun way to interact with peers, share photos with relatives, and make plans with friends; however, don’t assume that it’s just friends and family looking at your social network profile and posts. Your first line of defense against online predators on social media is to make sure your privacy settings are set to the highest level. On Facebook, you can choose to have your profile be viewable to ‘friends only’ instead of ‘everyone.’ On Twitter, you can set your account to private so people must get your permission before following you. Remember that there’s another setting that tags your photos and tweets with a location – another piece of information you may want to keep private.

Remind young people that social media sites are public spaces. They should be cautious about sharing information like phone numbers or addresses, even with the increased privacy settings.

Practice Internet Safety

The internet can be a great place full of cool people, information to help with school work, and of course, funny cat videos. Keep in mind these few practical tips so that your experience using the World Wide Web can be an awesome one. The below video depicts great examples of some of how to responsibly handle situations that you might encounter over the internet.